Wednesday, November 16, 2011

For Native Boys In Public School

Public school should be easy to deal with. The worst parts should be testing, pimples, and cliques. But when your a Native (Inyana) child, public schools can be much more stressful than it should be. To begin with you have more obstacles to overcome. You're a Native child in a nation where people treat you as if you are extinct. Remember the joke in Dave Chappelle's stand up act? "Indians! I read about you guys in Social Studies class. Let it be known that the American Indian is alive and well. I've seen them in the hunting isle of the Walmart."

When people think you're extinct they dismiss your needs. They criticize you for not assimilating. This is frustrating. Add to that the school dress codes and culturally insensitive mascots. Here are some tips to make things a little easier.

Your Hair

Most school districts have a rule that states that boys cannot have hair passed their ears or their shoulders. Check with your school district and find out if your school district has this rule. Then find out what the exceptions are. Typically exceptions are made for Natives but this isn't a guarantee. If your district does not allow for long hair no matter the reason, ask for a district transfer. Chances are, and exception will be made or you will be allowed to attend a school where you can keep your hair long. Just remember that there may be rules to the long hair exception. My son is allowed to wear his hair long as long as it is in one braided ponytail behind his head. He cannot wear two braids or wear it down. He is given a two braid exception on Native holidays. He is also allowed to wear a red hair tie (braid wrap) during times of prayer. Find out what you are or aren't allowed to do with your hair before you register for school next year.


Thanks to countless school shootings, most schools have a zero tolerance policy on bullying. But did you know that being picked on for being Native is considered a school hate crime? If someone makes fun of your long hair and calls you a girl, it is considered bullying. If someone makes a culturally insensitive joke about Native Americans, this is also a violation of your school Zero Tolerance policy. Never hesitate to report abuse or bullying to your school Principal. You also have the right not to participate in Thanksgiving or Columbus Day activities at your school. It's no different than a Jehovah's Witness or Jewish person not having to do Christmas assignments. Make sure your teacher is aware that you will not be participating prior to the assignment so that he or she can make an alternate assignment for you.

Self Expression

Many Native boys don't like to wear ribbon shirts or moccasins to school because they don't like answering 20 questions. This can be frustrating. To curb this inquisition, ask your teacher to set aside time to allow a member of your Native community to come in and share about your culture with the class. This will allow a forum for the 20 questions you would otherwise have to answer yourself.

Claim Your Heritage

A big reason why Natives are underrepresented in public school statistics is because many do not claim their heritage. It's easier to state another race on your registration forms than it is to state that you're Native. You may be afraid of being singled out or mistreated. But one of the reasons people treat you as if you are extinct is because you sit silently when you should be counted. Claim your heritage on your registration forms. Be counted.


Everything you experience now will be experienced by a Native younger  than you. Become a mentor to another Native boy. You can help them prepare for uncomfortable situations that face Native American students in public schools. Pass on what you've learned and connect him with your contacts. Keep your community strong.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Best Makeup Brands For Native Women

Maybelline- Of all the brands, this was the cheapest and was most frequently on sale. It also has the largest selection of browns of all drugstore brands. 

Revlon- It's not as cheap as Maybelline and on sale for half the frequency. However, it is great for people of mixed race. Revlon seems to capture the in between or unusual shades of brown that other brands cannot. It also seems to have better cooperation for our typically oily skin. 

MAC- There are endless shades of browns. It gives you a flawless, airbrushed, professional finish. However, that perfection can irritate our skin. It is also very expensive. Still, you can't argue with the shades of brown and the finish. 

Bare Minerals- It gives you the same coverage as MAC. It works with your own skin tone to blend in seamlessly. However, it is more expensive than MAC and isn't available in as many colors. There is something to be said about the natural ingredients. 

Best Lipsticks

Maybelline- As women of color, often times our top lip is a different color than our bottom lip. Having true coverage can be frustrating with going with the inexpensive brands. Maybelline's Color Sensational line gives full coverage, moisture, and finding your shade is really easy. This was the best glossy lipstick as it creates it's own natural shine. It is also the least expensive. 

Loreal- Again, this is one of the few drugstore lipsticks that offer full coverage. It's not as inexpensive as Maybelline but it does give a flawless, touch proof, matte finish. Typically, the colors that are meant for us aren't available in a matte finish. With Loreal, we can have that matte look that we crave, especially since we tend to have such oily skin.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

10 Things You Should Stop Saying This Native American Month

1. Let's powwow- What you really want to say is let's have a meeting or let's have a discussion. A powwow is a cultural event for Natives. The jingle dress carries with it 250 to 500 prayers on each and every one of those jingles hanging from that dress. Every dance has a spiritual meaning as does the regalia. 

2. Sit Indian style-What you really want to say is sit on your bottom or sit cross legged. Don't start your children on negative stereotypes by using phrases like these.

3. Squaw- I know there there are a couple of ski resorts named Squaw. I'm sure if the people who named it knew that "squaw" meant "cunt" to the nearby peoples that were moved off that land so that rich people could ski, they would have chosen another name. 

4. But you get free money right?- Not all Natives are members of a federally recognized tribe. The Dunlap Band of Mono are not federally recognized because the California state senator refuses to recognize they exist until the swear in writing that they will not have a casino. Many Natives are on Tribal TANF, a culturally based welfare program. Don't assume all Natives receive a per capita check. 

5. Everything is sacred to you people- We realize that our lifestyle is different. After all, there was no smog and destruction of land until settlers arrived. Just because it is to difficult for you to understand, that doesn't mean that you should be dismissive of our culture and way of life. 

6. Get over it- Here's one reason why we can't do that. The injustices against our people continue today. Every time our grandmothers have violent nightmares of what happened to them in a boarding school, we are reminded of what was done to us. In history class, we are referred to as if we were extinct and as if the injustices ended with slavery. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

7. Let me touch your hair- This is usually said before touching a Native's hair without permission. We aren't baby dolls meant to be touched and brushed at will. Keep your hands to yourself. 

8. What's the big deal? It's just Thanksgiving.- Would you say to a Jewish person, "What's the big deal it's only Christmas?" No, you wouldn't. You recognize and respect that person is from a different culture and religion. Do the same for Natives who vehemently disagree with the European account of Thanksgiving. 

9. We need to study you- This is usually a comment made in favor of keeping Native bodies in a museum. Here's the thing, if Europeans hadn't committed genocide, there would be no reason to study us. Also, many tribal elders admit to lying to anthropologists as a way to ridicule. Many times what you read and see in a museum isn't even the truth. Perhaps we should dig up Hoover and keep him in a museum so that we can study him too.

10. Honest Injun- It's supposed to add validity to your statement but it doesn't. It makes you sound dumb.

Friday, September 23, 2011

California Indian Day 2011

Today was California Indian day. 

So few people are aware of this holiday. Even natives of California are unaware of this official holiday. Notice that I used the lower case form of the word "native". There is a difference. A California native is someone that was born here. They are a native of this state. But at California Native is an indigenous person from the State of California. That seems like such an obvious distinction that needs no explanation. However, most people are unaware that California Natives even exist. 

Ask someone about the image that comes to mind when you say Native American. You will likely be given a description of one of the Lakota actors from Kevin Costner's Dances With Wolves. The reality is that, depending on the region you visit, Natives look completely different. For some reason people are able to accept that Africans and African-Americans come in different shades, heights, hair textures and facial features. The same is true of white Americans and Latin Americans. When it comes to Native Americans, there remains only one true image. 

The tall, dark, long-haired, stoic images that first come to mind remain the most prevalent. Perhaps this is the reason California Indians have yet to be "discovered". If no one ever thinks of the wavy haired woman with the basket hat or the barefoot baby in a cradle basket, the California Indian will not exist. Even in moments when they are on the verge of discovery, they are erased. Case in point, the ghost dance. Most frequently the ghost dance is attributed to the Lakota and the Cherokee. In reality it originated with the Paiute on the California / Nevada border. Though I have met many of Lakota who play "Indian celebrity" to the occasional groupie by taking credit for this dance, I have yet to meet one that acknowledges it's origin. Even the language used during the dance is Paiute. Yet, few people know who they are. 

Every year I set out on the pow wow trail or powwow trail if you prefer. I like to watch the younger dancers that are in training. I like to look at the craftsmanship of the regalia. Occasionally, I even dance. Not much to say about that, I'm a Northern Plains Indian. However, I live in California. Though I may receive flyers requesting my attendance at a local big time, one I arrive there I see nothing of the sort. Babies are in cradleboards rather than cradle baskets. The regalia looks strikingly similar to that of the Lakota or my tribe, Siksika.

Perhaps what California Indians need is more than just a day. Perhaps they need a movie to show they exist. There was one back in approximately 1996 called Grand Avenue. It was about a Pomo family, though the actors were Menominee, Inuit, Metis, Cree, Dakota, and Ojibwe to name a few. The movie was about Pomo Indians and none were cast as the lead characters. 

My hope is that one day, California Indian Day will become a federal holiday like Columbus Day. Then California Indians will no longer be invisible.